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Gentlemen of Bacongo Hardcover – June 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Trolley; First Edition edition (June 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190456383X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904563839
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 1.1 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #998,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Daniele Tamagni is an Italian photographer and art historian, with a particular fascination and focus on African culture and society. He moved into photography after working as a researcher in museums, galleries and churches. In 2007 he won the best portfolio in the Canon Young Photographer award for Italy with his images of Congolese dandies.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Ebonga Tembe on November 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is not what I expected. It's smaller than I had previously though. It's even smaller than most regular books. The pictures are nice but given the size of the book its does not do justice to some of the pictures. Also the text is just not commensurate with the pictures. There is no in-depth explanation of some of the pictures, no real analyses, no effort to comprehend this sub-cultures that others have explained so well. If you're buying this for the pictures, then go for it knowing that the text will not help you understand and contextualize the pictures.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Marsha Marsha on July 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have purchased this book 3 times! Once for myself and then twice as gifts. Btw, I am an African-American woman, a fashionista from way back, and have been reading and buying fashion books for decades.

I was astonished when I first picked up this book, for the cover alone is enough to grab the eye and beckon at the treasures of Black style held within. Page after page of not only extraordinary haberdashery but Black MEN at their sartorial finest - refreshing and even comforting, in an era of sagging pants and t-shirts as style.

The book certainly affirms that the roots of Black Style in the African Diaspora lie in Africa, and is a reminder of the sartorial splendor of the African American men of my "old-school" generation. Although the book describes the origin of the incredible look of the Sape as originating in their contact with European fashion, make no mistake - this book is about style as it emanates from Africa itself.

Contrary to reviewers who believe that the book is physically too small, this book made me feel as if I had a treasure in hand, a small, secret tome for the cognoscenti of style. Although I'd love to see, one day, a "cocktail table" sized book on the Sape, this small size made me feel as if even *I* was a part of this exclusive, arcane society of serious dressers. This is an exquisite book, beautifully photographed yet unflinching in depicting the finery of these men (and even a few women) in the midst of urban squalor - not unlike the men in the 'hood, here in the US. I was reminded of the slick, sharp, studied dressing in my hometown Detroit, a generation ago, where sharp-suited men reigned in on the corners of 12th Street - down the street from Motown.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Bernard M. Patten on April 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The suits are great - great fits, great colors, and great new ideas in fashion for men and the gods know we men need some great new ideas because the current fashion scene for us is blah. The philosophy is there, a religion of style called SAPE (Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnnes Elegantes), and well stated. There is even the 10 commandments of the SAPE, including the last commandments which are yet to be written. In other words, an evolving and fluid moral philosophy. It helps if you read French because some of the most enlightening elements are in that language. What I liked best is seeing nice people dressed nicely and having fun despite an environment of abject poverty. The photos show the real life of these people, their real homes, the real streets they walk on. What's wrong with that? And if you look carefully, actually study the photographs, there are always hints in the backgrounds about their secret lives. As for me, give me some suits like those on display. I have already asked my tailor if he can make two for me - the one on the cover and the one in the center with the red and white stripes. No answer yet. My tailor is studying the book and working on the project. Complaints: No page numbers; no index so the book is not perfect, but what human thing is? Perfect is the enemy of good-enough and this book is good enough by far. It is a unique work and approaches the redemptive quality of art.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Obi Tabansi Onyeaso on January 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have had this book for over 2 years now, and I still get favorable comments when friends glance through it in my house.

A lot of people do not quite understand that the cult of sape is really about an elegant rebellion against the oppression of drabness, uniformity, and herd mentality that characterized many African countries in the post-Independence period. To see this as simply a troop of misguided dandies spending money on garments they can ill afford is to miss the point.

Sape is not just about dress. It is about assertion of character. Tamagni, the author, has captured this cultural resistance in a brilliant edition. I hope to see an expanded second edition that extends the coverage to similar trends in Congo Kin, Cote dÍvoire, and other francophone countries.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By desmond on December 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As another reviewer has pointed out, the person who said the book does not "contextualize" the pictures must have missed the [drum roll] introductions, which give _extensive_ background.

(I found this book from a mention on the Bright Lights LA modeling website.)
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